Monday, October 31, 2011

An Interview with NICK KYME


Nick Kyme has just finished his epic Tome of Fire trilogy for Black Library, where he is also an editor. I therefore thought it would be a good time to ask him for an interview. He kindly responded with the following great answers, in which he talks about getting to know the Salamanders, some hints of his upcoming work, his working practices, and some thoughts on the genre.

November’s Most Anticipated


Haven’t done this sort of post in a while, but I thought I would as I am surprisingly on the ball for November’s releases (which makes a nice change, given my low rate of reviews recently). Five have stood out particularly for me this coming month (all but one of which I already have). They’re not the only releases for November that are interesting, though, so here’s a simple list and some thoughts for the coming month.

Friday, October 28, 2011

DC New 52: This Week’s Chosen


A smaller selection this week, as my chosen titles shrink further. These three DC titles had great debut issues, so I was very much looking forward to getting my hands on them.

In addition to All-Star Western, Batman: Dark Knight and I Vampire, I also picked up the first issue of new Vertigo title, Spaceman (it’s only $1, which is a pretty low-risk price for something to try out). Some mixed impressions, this time.

“The Outcast Dead” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)


A terrible truth revealed and the hunt to suppress it

The galaxy is burning. The Emperor’s loyal primarchs prepare to do battle with Warmaster Horus and his turncoat Legions on the black sand of Isstvan. Such dark times herald new and yet more terrible things still to come, and when Astropath Kai Zulane unwittingly learns a secret that threatens to tip the balance of the war, he is forced to flee for his life. Alongside a mysterious band of renegades, he plunges into the deadly underworld of Terra itself, hunted like a criminal by those he once trusted. In the face of betrayal, Kai must decide where his own loyalties lie and whether some truths should be buried forever.

The Outcast Dead is the latest novel in Black Library’s New York Times bestselling Horus Heresy series. It’s a slightly different kind of novel to previous Heresy novels (including McNeill’s own contributions to the series), and offers an alternative perspective of the brewing civil war, away from the front lines. It’s a refreshing take on the period, and one that adds greater depth to our understanding of how the Imperium reacted on its home turf to the rebellion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My New York Bookshelf (as of Oct.25th)


Things have been a bit quiet here at Civilian Reader, so I thought I’d write a quick post about some of the reviews readers can expect to see over the coming month or so. [This is by no means a definitive or exhaustive list, as things can always change and you can’t see the books I have on my Kindle – which is perched there on the top left.]

So, starting from the left and working across the photo, read on for some thoughts on these novels and non-fiction titles.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

DC New 52: “Catwoman” #1 & 2


A last minute addition to my DC New 52 reads, and quite a good one, at that…

Writer: Judd Winick | Artist: Guillem March

I only know Catwoman from Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of the character in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992). All I knew was that she is a little nutty and broken. So, without further ado, I dove right into the first two issues of the comic.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

“The Devil Colony” by James Rollins (William Morrow/Orion)

Rollins-DevilColonyUSSigma Force race to halt a potential cataclysm rooted in the history of America’s Founding

Deep in the Rocky Mountains, a gruesome discovery stirs international attention and controversy. Despite doubts about the bodies’ origins, the local Native American Heritage Commission lays claim to the prehistoric remains, along with the strange artefacts found in the same cavern: gold plates inscribed with an unfathomable script.

During a riot at the dig site, an anthropologist dies, burned to ashes in a fiery explosion in plain view of television cameras. All evidence points to a radical group of Native Americans, including one agitator, a teenage firebrand who escapes with a vital clue to the murder and calls on the one person who might help — her uncle, Painter Crowe, Director of Sigma Force.

To protect his niece and uncover the truth, Painter will ignite a war among the nation’s most powerful intelligence agencies. Yet an even greater threat looms as events in the Rocky Mountains have set in motion a frightening chain reaction, a geological meltdown that threatens the entire western half of the U.S.

I’ve long been a fan of Rollins’s Sigma Force novels, and being in the United States at the moment meant I could get my hands on Devil Colony months before its UK release date. Filled with intrigue, action and adventure – not to mention some great characters – The Devil Colony is an interesting, science-infused action-adventure.

DC New 52: This Week’s Chosen


This week we have issue two of the new Batman, Birds of Prey and Nightwing. Also this week, I decided to give Red Hood & the Outlaws a try, so I picked up the first two issues (I go into why, below). These are all Batman-related titles, too, so if you’d like to see what I thought of the first issues, check out this link.

It’s getting harder to cull the titles that I’m following, as many of the titles (overall, not just these four) have improved into their second month. There is, however, one that drops off this week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

“Viscount & the Witch” by Michael Sullivan


A great prequel to the Riyria Revelations

Eleven years before they were framed for the murder of a king, before even assuming the title of Riyria, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater were practically strangers. Unlikely associates, this cynical thief and idealist swordsman, were just learning how to work together as a team. In this standalone first instalment of The Riyria Chronicles, Royce is determined to teach his naive partner a lesson about good deeds.

Michael Sullivan offers new readers and long-time fans a short story set in the same world as his Riyria Revelations series (coming soon from Orbit). Showcasing Sullivan’s talents as an author, this is a fantastic introduction to his characters and writing.

“Red Sonja Blue” by Peter V. Brett (Dynamite)


A comic one-shot by internationally bestselling author of The Painted Man & The Desert Spear

Artist: Walter Geovani

When an unfortunate encounter with a demon deprives her of her trademark chainmail bikini, Sonja is forced to don a familiar blue fur tunic for the remainder of this adventure.

When I was a kid, I remember seeing and loving the movie Red Sonja, with Brigitte Nielsen in the title role (boy did I have quite the crush on her…). When I heard that Peter Brett had written a one-shot issue of the Red Sonja comic, I started hunting for it. Only yesterday was I finally able to find a copy (at Midtown Comics in New York), and the wait was certainly worth it.

“Hour of Shadows” by CL Werner (Black Library)


The Storm of Magic comes to Athel Loren

For thousands of years, the Golden Pool has been a source of malignant energy within the forest of Athel Loren. The wood elf spellweaver Ywain, secretly entrusted with the stewardship of this magical fulcrum, prophesises the coming of a terrible enemy to the ancient realm – even now, the undead hordes of the Black Seer Huskk Gnawbone approach. As the elves marshal their forces against him, the power of the pool grows and an eternal evil rises to corrupt even the very forest itself.

It is always a pleasure to read Werner’s work. He manages to evoke the dark and gothic nature of the Warhammer world brilliantly (perhaps peerlessly). In this novella, he brings the twisted, horrific Skaven to life on the page, their machinations and cowardice perfectly rendered in such a short space.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stop Press! “King of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Voyager)

Wow. Just saw this, and had to share – the artwork for Mark Lawrence’s King of Thorns:


I really like this. A lot. And I can’t wait to read it (it’s currently scheduled for publication in August 2012).

I’m not sure if this is the absolute final version of the artwork, but I imagine it’s pretty close. Maybe a couple more tweaks still to come, but… Well, I think this is great.

More on CR: Review of Prince of Thorns & Interview with Mark.

Tor UK Captures Seth Patrick


Tor UK has recently acquired the debut novel from Seth Patrick, an author based in the UK. The novel, Reviver, is the first of a trilogy featuring Jonah Miller (although one assumes it could be extended, a la Dresden Files, etc.). Miller is a reviver, which seems to be some form of medium/psychic, who “can make contact with the dead and bring them back for a short period of time to say goodbye to loved ones or, more importantly for the police, tell them who their killers were”.

The premise for Reviver sounds pretty interesting: set in the US, Jonah is one of the world’s most gifted revivers.

“While reviving the victim of a brutal murder, Jonah discovers that a sinister presence is watching from the other side.  When he starts to investigate, what he uncovers threatens everything he knows...”

So, while gazing into the Other Side, Jonah realises something is gazing back. I’m sure I’ve seen something like this somewhere else, but I’m sure this will have an interesting twist to the idea (it was pre-emptively bought for six figures, so Tor clearly have high hopes and belief in the novel).

Reviver is currently slated for UK publication in 2013. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for it. The style of the novel has been compared to Stephen King, Justin Cronin and Dean Koontz.

(Thomas Dunne Books has bought the rights for US publication.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

DC New 52: This Week’s Chosen Four

Strong second issues for four of DC’s rebooted titles


Taking a different approach to the previous DC New 52 reviews I’ve posted up here, I’ll now review them by week of release, I think. This will mean for less clutter on the website and hopefully more streamlined reviews. Also, assume that there are minor spoilers after the break – so if you don’t want anything spoiled, just pay attention to the pre-break stuff.

This week: Demon Knights, Grifter, Resurrection Man, and Suicide Squad – all four of which continue the stories started in their debut issues very well, and actually improve! Resurrection Man and Demon Knights are probably the strongest of the four, and only Suicide Squad has left me wondering about how long I’ll be sticking with it.

[I intend to stick with all the titles I’ve enjoyed until they lose my interest. It’ll be interesting – probably only for me – to see how far I get with some of them.]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing William Elliott


Next month, Jo Fletcher Books will publish the first in a new fantasy trilogy by award-winning Australian author William Elliott (his debut novel, The Pilo Family Circus, won the ABC Fiction Award). After reading the press release, I was intrigued by the premise of his first fantasy novel, and wanted to find out more. Will was kind enough to answer my questions about his series, writing and more. And it’s possible that I made up the genre “Portal Fantasy”, or at least misunderstood what it is…

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“The Edinburgh Dead” by Brian Ruckley (Orbit)

Ruckley-EdinburghDeadGothic and brilliant

Edinburgh 1827. In the starkly-lit operating theatres of the city, grisly experiments are being carried out on corpses in the name of medical science. But elsewhere, there are those experimenting with more sinister forces.

Amongst the crowded, sprawling tenements of the labyrinthine Old Town, a body is found, its neck torn to pieces. Charged with investigating the murder is Adam Quire, Officer of the Edinburgh Police. The trail will lead him into the deepest reaches of the city’s criminal underclass, and to the highest echelons of the filthy rich.

Soon Quire will discover that a darkness is crawling through this city of enlightenment – and no one is safe from its corruption.

This is the first of Ruckley’s novels that I’ve read, and it’s incredibly good. Dark and atmospheric, Edinburgh Dead has shades of Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson, only with a 21st Century flare. I’m really kicking myself for leaving this so late. The Edinburgh Dead is gothic, literary, and brilliant.

Monday, October 10, 2011

DC New 52: “Green Arrow” #1 & 2


Writer: J.T. Krul | Artists: Dan Jurgens & George Perez

Green Arrow is on the hunt. Driven by inner demons, Ollie Queen travels the world and brings outlaws to justice… by breaking every law.

Now, armed with cutting-edge weaponry and illegally gained intel (courtesy of his team at QCore), Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.

In Issue 2, Super Hero executions will now be televised! After taking down members of a “celebrity” gang – privileged, decadent teens who buy their powers and stage fights with unsuspecting victims – Green Arrow finds himself in the crosshairs of the entire team! It’s Ollie Queen vs. a dozen thrill killers while the world watches – live!

I picked up these two issues because Green Arrow is one of DC’s characters that I’m vaguely familiar with already – because of Smallville, which I know isn’t exactly canon. I thought he was an interesting character in that show, so figured he’d be as good, if not better, in his own comic. Turns out, he was only ok.

DC New 52: “Action Comics” #1 & 2


Not bad, but not brilliant, either…

Writer: Grant Morrison | Artist: Rag Morales

Action Comics is, according to DC’s website, the “cornerstone” of the DC universe. Superman is not what you may know from other titles, movies or TV. He’s new to Metropolis and struggling as a reporter. The US military and Lex Luthor are hell-bent on capturing him and learning what they can about and from him. In the second issue, Superman finds himself in a compromised position.

So. Grant Morrison. I don’t have a very good history with liking his writing so far. (Some readers will remember I read All-Star Superman and New X-Men in an attempt to get back into comics earlier this year.) With the first two issues of Action Comics, I still don’t understand the hype.

DC New 52: “Men of War” #2


The front becomes even more strange and incredible

Writers: Ivan Brandon & Jonathan Vankin

Artists: Tom Derenik & Phil Winslade

In the split second after a heavy-weapons blast the air goes silent and still, just as it does in the ghostly realm of Circe. How will Rock and his team of men – battle-hardened, but still human – survive a villainess who can walk on the very wind?

Plus, Navy Seals Ice and Tracker go where no boots are on the ground, but when their mission is compromised, how will they tell friend from foe?

Another good issue, with the same strengths as the first, but not enough to keep me coming back every month for just a short slice of the story.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Congratulations, Nathan Long!

Just a quick post to congratulate Nathan Long for selling two novels to Night Shade Books! Mr Long, who has written some excellent tie-in novels, had this to say about the deal:

My manuscript, JANE CARVER OF WAAR, has been sold to Night Shade Books – plus a sequel! Yup, a two book deal, with Jane to be published in March of next year, and the sequel soon after. Woo-Hoo!

I can’t tell you how exciting this is. As much as I love writing the Warhammer novels, selling an original novel is a threshold I have been waiting to cross all my life.

It feels glorious.

[Read the full announcement]

Speaking of his Warhammer novels: Nathan took over writing the Gotrek & Felix series from William King, as well as expanding it with a spin-off series focusing on Ulrika the Vampire: Orcslayer, Manslayer, Elfslayer, Shamanslayer, Zombieslayer, Bloodborn and Bloodforged.

Nathan was also kind enough to do an interview for the site.

I’m looking forward to giving his original work a read. If you’ve not read any of Long’s work yet, I’d highly recommend it: great characterisation, plotting, and humour. Not only that, each novel has just got better and better.

DC New 52: “Deathstroke” #1

DCNew52-Deathstroke1An aging Assassin wants his Reputation back

“Friends disappoint, family dies, but a legacy… that’s forever.”

A metahuman mercenary who made a living taking out the toughest targets, Deathstroke was once a name that commanded fear and respect from opponents and clients alike. But as Slade Wilson slowly drifted away from the hunting and assassination missions that made him legendary, the name “Deathstroke” has lost some of its meaning.

Now, something happens that opens Slade Wilson’s one remaining eye, forcing him to reclaim his fearsome legacy – by any means necessary!

This will be just a quick review. This is a great title – fast-paced, brutal, and gritty; with an awesome, truly bad-ass protagonist.

Deathstroke has been diversifying his portfolio, playing the highly-paid bodyguard as well as assassin, but it’s had a negative impact on his reputation. His age doesn’t help, either. It’s time for him to fight back and reclaim his place as the best assassin the world has to offer.

Solid dialogue and a good deal of background, this is a great introduction to our ‘hero’. There’s some mystery thrown in towards the end, and I was stunned by some of Deathstroke’s actions, so it’s absolutely assured that I’ll be buying issue two. The artwork throughout is great, lots of dynamism in the action scenes, and a very clean style throughout.

Definitely a recommended title.

DC New 52: New Batman Titles


A look at four of the eleven new Batman titles

Batman is the DC character I’m most familiar with – largely because of the movies, it’s true, but I think I may have read a couple of issues when I was younger. So, with the re-boot of so many Batman-related titles, I decided to pick up a selection to get reacquainted with the characters and the setting. I stuck quite conservatively to two specific Batman titles, and two ‘spin-offs’.

Friday, October 07, 2011

DC New 52: “Blackhawks” #1

DCNew52-Blackhawks1An International Fighting Force

Writer: Mike Costa

Artist: Ken Lashley

Welcome to a world waging a new kind of war that’s faster and more brutal than ever before. It’s fought by those who would make the innocent their targets, using computers, smart weapons and laser-guided missiles. The new enemy hard to find – and closer to home than we think.

Between us and them stand the Blackhawks, an elite force of military specialists equipped with the latest in cutting-edge hardware and vehicles. Their mission: Kill the bad guys before they kill us.

In the first issue of Blackhawks, we are introduced to the eponymous UN-sponsored defence force. We’re dropped right into some action, which is good – no mucking about with unnecessary exposition.

Two Stories from “Hammer & Bolter 11” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden & David Annandale (Black Library)


Hammer & Bolter is Black Library’s monthly eBook, offering short stories, interviews and excerpts of upcoming Warhammer and WH40k fiction. It is also where new authors showcase their work. In Issue 11, there were two stories that really stood out for me, so I’ve decided to review them here.

The first is Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Shadow Knight (a prequel to his Night Lords series), which showcases his exceptional skill as a writer once again. The second is a tale from newcomer David Annandale, which offers an original take on a popular Chaos trope, done very nicely indeed.

In the future, I’ll do similar-style reviews for any other stories that strike me as particularly noteworthy.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

DC New 52: “I, Vampire” #1


A human-vampire War is brewing, and an unlikely hero stands on our side…

Writer: Josh Fialkov

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

For hundreds of years, vampire Andrew Stanton kept mankind safe from the horrors of the supernatural world, thanks to a truce he made with his ex-lover Mary, the Queen of the Damned. But now the truce has reached a bloody end and Andrew must do everything in his power to stop Mary and her dark forces from going on a killing spree

I’m a sucker for most things vampire, so when I saw that I Vampire was one of the titles DC was rebooting, I figured why not? Also, on the day of its release, the author was signing copies at Meltdown Comics on Sunset Blvd., which is where I’ve been buying my comics.

“House Divided” by Mike Lawson (Atlantic Press)


A Rogue General, Illegal Wire-Taps, and DeMarco’s in the Middle

With his boss out of commission, Joe DeMarco is on his own, a sacrificial pawn in a lethal game between a master spy and a four-star army general.

When the NSA was caught wiretapping U.S. citizens without warrants, a scandal erupted and the program came to a screeching halt. But the man who spearheaded the most sophisticated eavesdropping operation in history wasn’t about to sit by while his country sleepwalked into another 9/11. Instead, he moved the program into the shadows. So when the NSA records a rogue military group murdering two American civilians, they can’t exactly walk over to the Pentagon and demand to know what’s going on. That doesn’t mean their hands are tied, however. As the largest intelligence service in the country, both in money and manpower, they have plenty of options — mostly illegitimate.

DeMarco learns all too well just what the NSA is capable of, but he doesn’t like being used…

I’ve been a fan of Lawson’s DeMarco series ever since I read The Inside Ring. House Divided is the sixth book in the series, and it is quite possibly the best yet. Certainly a series that deserves far more attention than it receives.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

DC New 52: “Grifter” #1

DCNew52-Grifter1Terrorist or hero?

Writer: Nathan Edmondson

Artist: CAFU

Ex-black ops agent Cole Cash is a charming grifter that few can resist. And yet he’s about to be branded a serial killer when he begins hunting and exterminating inhuman creatures hidden in human form – creatures only he can see!

Can the biggest sweet talker of all time talk his way out of this one when even his brother thinks he’s gone over the edge?

Another title and character that is entirely new to me, and another from the “Edge” range of DC comics. The first issue doesn’t give too much away, but it kicks off an interesting premise and some enticing mystery.



The Vampire Shrink is one of the first novels to come from new publishing imprint Jo Fletcher Books. It has received quite a bit of buzz around the blogosphere and other genre venues. Dark fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy… It fits into all three of these sub-genres, and yet seems to be doing something new and original. Lynda’s had a pretty varied and interesting pre-authorial life, so I was very happy that she had time to answer a few questions about her writing and more.

DC New 52: “Suicide Squad” #1

DCNew52-SuicideSquad1Deathrow inmates given a second chance?

Writer: Adam Glass

Artist: Marco Rudy

They’re a team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous – they’re sheer suicide!

Harley Quinn! Deadshot! King Shark! Defeated and imprisoned, they’re being interrogated about their mission – and about who’s pulling the strings behind this illegal operation. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure?

It’s a bit difficult to review this one without spoiling it all, so this is a very short review. An interesting title with not your usual ‘heroes’ at the centre of the action. Lots of potential.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Today’s LA Geek Sightings…

Just a very quick post. I went out to an exhibition of some of John Wayne’s possessions (the family are auctioning off a bunch of it, because there’s just so much stuff). While there, I managed two geek sightings and I thought I’d share them up on here.

First up, proof John Wayne had good taste in books:

20111003-1858 - John Wayne's LotR & Hobbit

Yup, those are the John Wayne’s copies of Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and also The Hobbit.

And secondly, one for Supernatural fans (among which I am most definitely to be counted):

20111004 - Me & Jim Beaver (Bobby in Supernatural)

That’s me and Jim Beaver, who plays Bobby Singer! In the show he usually looks something like this, about to kill a beastie:


He was very friendly, and he was very gracious about my intrusion on his time.

Monday, October 03, 2011

DC New 52: “Demon Knights” #1

DCNew52-DemonKnights1Demonic Possession & Invading Armies

Writer: Paul Cornell

Artists: Diogenes Neves & Oclair Albert

In the dark ages of the DC Universe, a barbarian horde is massing to crush civilization. It’s fallen to Madame Xanadu and Jason Blood, the man with a monster inside him, to stand in their way – though the demon Etrigan has no interest in protecting anyone or anything other than himself! It’ll take more than their own power to stop an army fuelled by bloodlust and dark sorcery, and some very surprising heroes – and villains – will have no choice but to join the fray!

Another title I knew nothing about, but came recommended by a number of people whose opinion I trust. An interesting premise, and it will be interesting to see where it’s headed.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

DC New 52: “All-Star Western” #1


Gotham City in the 1880s

Writers: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti

Artist: Moritat

Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer?

I picked this up on the recommendation of Stephen Aryan, and I am very happy that I did. It’s dark, stylish, and offers a new take on Gotham City, before Batman – but certainly not before the rampant crime.